Illinois High School Football News

St. Bede doesn’t play its best, but beats Bureau Valley to improve to 6-0

St Bede’s Landon Jackson looks at the ball after causing a fumble Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022 in Peru. St. Bede's Callan Hueneburg scooped it up and ran it for a touchdown.

When St. Bede stepped on the field Saturday for its homecoming game against Bureau Valley, it had been 15 days since the Bruins last played.

It showed.

The Bruins turned the ball over twice, had a punt blocked, booted a 9-yard punt and made several other mistakes.

Still, St. Bede took a 16-point lead in the first quarter and held off a Storm comeback to win 31-20 in a Three Rivers Conference Mississippi Division game in Peru.

“We did not play our best game, there’s no question about it,” St. Bede coach Jim Eustice said. “That’s not taking anything away from what Bureau Valley did. Bureau Valley made us not play well in a lot of areas. We faced a lot of adversity today and in the last few days. I’m proud of the way the kids hung in there and battled.”

With the win, the Bruins improve to 6-0 — for the first time since 1986 — to guarantee a playoff berth.

“We were resilient enough to come out with a W today,” Eustice said. “Winning high school football games isn’t easy. We’ve won six of them now this year and we’re excited. I’m happy for the kids. I’m happy for the program and I’m happy for all these fans here. It’s a great homecoming day for us.

“It’s been a long, long time since St. Bede was 6-0 and we’re very proud of it.”

The Bruins (3-0 in the conference), who are ranked No. 7 in Class 1A, travel to 3A No. 4 Princeton (6-0, 4-0) on Friday.

“It’s going to be a lot of hype for sure with two 6-0 teams,” Eustice said. “It’s going to be a battle. We’re going to prepare for them. We believe in ourselves and what we’re doing. It’s going to be a huge test.”

On Saturday, the Bruins went three-and-out on their first possession and had their punt blocked, but John Brady scooped it up and ran for the first down.

However, St. Bede ran just three more plays before punting again.

After the Bruins held Bureau Valley to a three-and-out, they drove 50 yards on eight plays, capping the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Ben Wallace.

Late in the first quarter, Landon Jackson forced a fumble and Callan Hueneburg picked it up and returned it 18 yards for a TD and a 16-0 lead.

The Storm then got their offense going, marching 59 yards on 13 plays – gaining two first downs on St. Bede encroachment penalties – and scoring on a 7-yard run by QB Bryce Helms.

St. Bede lost a fumble and BV’s Elijah Endress recovered to give the Storm possession at the Bruins’ 18.

Bureau Valley converted the turnover into a 2-yard TD run by Robert Novak to pull within 16-14 with 2:45 left in the first half.

However, the Bruins responded with a quick 65-yard drive with Brady doing the bulk of the damage on the ground with a 22-yard gain and a 33-yard TD scamper for a 23-14 halftime lead.

Brady, who finished 9-of-27 passing for 62 yards, added an 18-yard TD run to extend St. Bede’s lead to 31-14 with 5:18 left in the third after Nathan Lough recovered a BV fumble.

“He was just off,” Eustice said. “Very uncharacteristic. You just have to keep playing through it. John’s our leader. We believe in him. He’ll come back and he’ll be better. He just had an off day.

“He made plays with his legs, which he’s been able to do all year. He’s a winner. I’ll go to bat with him every time.”

The Storm (1-5, 0-4) put together another scoring drive with Novak, who ran for 82 yards on 23 carries, scoring from 3 yards out with 9:27 left.

After the Bruins lost another fumble, the St. Bede defense came up with a stop as Jackson and Jake Migliorini stuffed Novak for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-3 from the Bruin 12 with 1:24 left.

“St. Bede is a really good team and our kids battled their rear ends off,” BV coach Mat Pistole said. “I can’t say enough how proud I am of their effort. We just can’t make the play when we absolutely need it, and that’s the next step we have to make. But today shows we can play with anybody in the conference when we execute and do things the right way.”